Category Archives: Five Stars

A View From My Bay

Vincent Green is a man that struggles to be heard due to injuries related to 9/11. A View From My Bay is his way of letting his voice be heard. There is often a mystery to men of greatness. A person can be considered great for the battles they win, the lives they save or the life they live. Vincent Green has done all these things in his lifetime. In his intimate memoir A View from My Bay we are exposed to Vincent, or Vinny, the man. Readers experience his humble origins and his journey to the heights of his career and personal life. This book is both inspiring and personal. Part autobiography part memoir, Vinny shares parts of his soul that made him into the man he is today.

Green has climbed from what many would describe as the bottom of the socio-economic ladder to impressive heights. Well respected and regarded through his law enforcement career he has shared his skills and knowledge with leaders from across the world. This illuminating biography shares his skills and his talents in fighting corruption like those heroes we all watched on television when we were young. He is more than an impressive male role model for young men and women. He is a human being with thoughts and feelings. He has granted us his grace in sharing those pieces of himself through this book.

A collection of styles are used by Green to share his emotions, thoughts, and ideals. These are pieces of his past and the incredible experiences he has lived. The first book in a planned trilogy, readers will get to experience the specific moments in time that helped shape Green into the person he became. The praises he attributes to his parents, the respect he gives to his dearly departed sister and the specks of his own soul.

A View from My Bay by Vincent Green is a humble and awe-inspiring glimpse into the world that shaped Vinny into the amazing person he became. These snippets and pieces are not inflated with hot air or selfish praises. These are beautiful portraits of a singular man who has risen from what others would call the depths. He does not deny his humble origins, yet he doesn’t attempt to make a ‘success’ story for himself out of them. He simply exists and shares his soul with his readers. And readers are better for it.

Pages: 278 | ASIN: B074R5FKTX

The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) 

The Problem with Poppy (The Sumatran Trilogy) by [Emma Sandford, Olena Osadcha]

It is hard being a porcupine. Poppy is a young porcupine that scares easily due to being mistreated in the past. Now when someone new approaches her she sticks out her quills, stomping her feet, and hissing at them. It makes it very hard to find new friends, and Poppy is very lonely because of this. One day a young tiger tried to make friends with Poppy and she scared him away, instantly feeling bad. Today was going to be different though, today Poppy was going to go find the little tiger and apologize. After finding the young tiger disaster strikes and Poppy must overcome her fears to save her new friend.

I found the development of Poppy’s character appealing. A timid little porcupine that reacts with fear to all new interactions, turns into a character that is strong and loyal. Poppy will be relatable to young children that are often afraid of new people and situations. Poppy shows them that it is okay to be afraid while still doing new things.

When looking for a children’s book that has a meaningful message, captivating illustrations, and a unique story line look no further. Emma Sandford’s picture book The Problem with Poppy hits all the right marks for children and the young at heart. The reading level is ideal for kindergarteners and those that are on an early elementary reading level.

Pages: 17 | ASIN: B095XF3RK5

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Dear Barack

Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel by [Claudia Clark]

Human beings can always find common ground if they try hard enough. Being on two sides of disagreeing continents does not necessitate an enmity. Barack Obama and Angela Merkel understood this. It did not start with an obvious affinity for each other. Angela Merkel was adamant to warm up to the incumbent president of the U.S. Barack Obama was desperate to repair the strained relationship between America and Europe as well as get the country through the recession. He had his work cut out for him. It took a while but they finally developed a relationship based on mutual respect and genuine friendship as well as a harmonious effort to serve their people. Author Claudia Clark does a fantastic job of bringing this all together in her illuminating book, Dear Barack.

This is basically a buddy story. Only it is not fiction and the main characters are two of the most powerful people in the world. It is an eye-opening story about the human capacity to overcome the urge to become enemies in the pursuit of the interests that suit their cause. It may have been a difficult time in more ways than one but these two leaders were guiding lights not just for the people in their countries but for the world. It also renews hope that good leaders do exist, especially after the administration that succeeded Obama’s. The story is especially interesting that both of them were outliers – Barack, the first black president, and Angela, a female leader in the free world.

Claudia Clark has narrated history in a way that is engaging and uplifting. You do not need to be a history fanatic to enjoy this book. The author conveys history in a way that is compelling and captivating. She pulls in the reader and puts them in the meetings and private conversations between the two. This is a well-researched account of the inspiring relationship between these two highly admired leaders. Her regard for both of them shines through her words and her tone.

The author even adds a little bit of Obama’s wit and charm to the story. Her narration is nothing short of gripping. It is the kind of book you discuss with your friends and family because there is so much intellectually invigorating content.

You cannot help but shed a tear when Angela does as she watched her friend and fellow leader leave office. You will definitely chuckle when you read about Obama’s sign-off to his friend. Dear Barack is a beautifully written book about a wonderful partnership.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B09HL8VQB1

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Our 20/20 Journey Back to School

Our 20/20 Journey Back to School by [Maria Thompson, Daria Shamolina]

The year of 2020, one none of us will soon forget. For teachers this is especially true. Teachers and students were thrown into a new world of uncertainty and change. What was not expected, was how strong students and teachers would come out of this year. Maria Cedolini Thompson’s children’s book, Our 20/20 Journey Back to School, is one of perseverance, strength, and having a positive attitude in the wake of things that you can not change.

This story gives a teacher’s perspective to children on the events of the past year without fear or an agenda, just explaining things in a way children in elementary grades can understand and empathize with. Thompson address the fears children had and applauded their successes.  

Daria Shamolina has illustrated this book that is engaging, creative and just fun. One example is the children all have masks with funny faces on them. The colors are vibrant and draw the reader into the story. Together the prose and illustrations make for a touching story, a teachers passion to teach, and children’s desire to be in the classroom learning.  Our 20/20 Journey Back to School by Maria Cedolini Thompson will delight readers of all ages with a bright outlook for getting through a COVID world stronger.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B09JW2WHHK

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Inside Out

Inside Out by [Michael Tuberdyke]

It is amazing how people can be so different yet so connected by some cosmic force. Marge manages a building in an obscure corner. In the building three units are occupied. Each tenant leads a different life. Each tenant lives as though the next tenant does not exist. This is sort of a commentary on how most of the world lies today. Todd Brown likes his music. Mr. Andrews is lonely and possibly broke. Nick and Claire’s union might be on its last leg. They might as well be strangers living in the same space.

In this book thought-provoking book we take a look at the lives of average people. Have you ever walked by a building and wondered about the people who live in there? Inside Out provides the reader with an opportunity to be a fly on the wall. It satisfies a curiosity we have all had at least once. On the street, everyone seems normal. They are simply faces going about their businesses. In their own homes, they take off whatever masks they may wear out in public and let their true selves roam around the rooms. This book may be fiction but it is an accurate and intriguing representation of life.

Michael Tuberdyke is an excellent writer. His depiction of each of the characters is detailed and gives their character a compelling depth. The author lets the reader deep into the psyche of the characters to see how they think. As a reader, you can almost picture the look on Nick’s face every time Claire chooses work over spending time with him. You can hear the disappointment in his words. The characters in this book are relatable, perhaps because they so accurately represent the population.

Inside Out is quick read that will leave readers thinking deeply about the community they live in and the people they come across. This is book provides a fascinating look at the lives of some interesting people, and provides readers with a thoughtful exploration and character examination through the easy storytelling ability of author Michael J. Tuberdyke.

Pages: 73 | ASIN: B09JS5VCL2

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Hot House

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Marissa Ellwyn, or Mari E. as she prefers to be called, has her hands full. She holds down two full time jobs even though her family’s wealth would seem to dictate that she doesn’t need either of them. Art gallery owner and private investigator are almost two hats too many for this determined woman who is on the verge of being in over her head. When Mari is followed by a mysterious van and soon after the victim of breaking and entering, she begins to examine any and all connections to her current case. Throw a new partner and former LAPD detective, Derek Abernathy, into the mix and you have quite the thrill ride of intrigue, suspense, and humor.

Hot House, by Lisa Towles, is the story of Mari E.’s adventure as a private investigator. Against her family’s wishes, she has continued to pursue a life on the edge and really wouldn’t have it any other way. Her current case involves the blackmail of a high profile member of the court system. In addition to solving his case, Mari is battling her own demons as she fights to find her own father who disappeared over a year ago.

I love this book! Mari is a firecracker of a character and delivers one highly-relatable quip after another. I felt her struggle in my soul–every frustration with those around her who just “don’t get it,” and each time she muttered under her breath with exasperation. As main characters go, Mari has it all. She wraps readers around her little finger, and she has a past. Don’t we all love some interesting baggage when it comes to our main characters? Mari has it in spades. 

Towles has produced a knockout novel with Hot House. There is virtually nothing missing from her writing. Towles’s plot is as twisted and unpredictable as you would ever want a thriller to be. If I am not kept guessing, I lose interest quickly. Towles kept me holding on for dear life as I continued to try to stay one step ahead of Mari and Derek and failed miserably. It’s this kind of action that will keep readers engaged in this suspenseful crime novel.

Nowhere will thriller fans find a more engaging keep-you-on-your-toes read. If you are looking to try out a new author, I cannot recommend a better investment than Lisa Towles’s E & A Investigations series.

Pages: 287 | ISBN: 978-1-64456-421-9

Coming Soon

LisaTowles.com | Indie United Publishing House

Dargo

Dargo: Eco Hero! (Treasury of Feel-Good Stories) by [Karina McRoberts]

Poor Dargo Fernandez. He doesn’t want much out of life. In fact, he really wants nothing more than to belong. At the rate he is going, he won’t even  accomplish that much. His life is more of an existence than anything–he has no social life to speak of. When Dargo comes face to face with the fact that even his meager position in the company is in jeopardy, he heads for home with his heart on his sleeve. Wondering how he will be able to pay his bills, Dargo finds himself creating a laundry list of new worries on his journey home. Before he can even begin to resolve his issues, he is quite literally swept away to face a whole new challenge

Dargo: Eco Hero, by Karina McRoberts, follows main character Dargo Fernandez as he rises from the depths of despair in his going-nowhere-fast job to his new position as hero for the environment. McRoberts’s work hits on a few genres but hones in primarily on fantasy. In fact, it gives me the best kind of Wizard of Oz vibes. The author has nailed the same type of warmth as L. Frank Baum but puts her own unique spin on main character Dargo and his band of merry cohorts.

The ecological lessons conveyed in McRoberts’s work are huge ones. She is successful in creating quite an impact with her words and the experiences of her cast of characters. I was especially impressed with the mixture of personification and metaphors found throughout the writing. The imagery she creates leaves readers breathless at times. Her writing is timely and gives voice to the environment in a way no other writer I have seen has been able to do.

Dargo: Eco Hero is a short read, easily digestible in one sitting, it packs an important punch–and one we all need to feel right about now. Protecting and appreciating the earth for the miracle it is tops this author’s list of priorities. Readers looking for a hard dose of truth in their fantasy reads will appreciate McRoberts’s style and character development. I highly recommend Dargo’s story to anyone looking for something different, something fun, and a book that will leave them smiling.

Pages: 85 | ASIN: B083RBML74

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Paradise Taken

Paradise Taken: The Diary of Eden Flores Part I by [Omar Gonzalez]

In Paradise Taken author Omar Gonzalez tells the story of an American girl born to a naturalized Hispanic father. The author describes him as a physically abusive companion to his wife and his children. When their mother leaves them with their father, he escalates his alcoholism and physical violence. His daughter, whom he prefers, dresses like a boy and becomes the subject to his sexual violence. She does not disclose this to anyone, and it eats at her. When they finally leave their dad to go to their uncle’s, they are reunited with their mother, and some semblance of closure is achieved.

Paradise Taken is an emotionally-charged memoir that progressively escalates the plot by explaining the main protagonist’s life from different points of view. The narrator portrays her abusive father as a rounded character, protective and caring for his family but also a drunk, violent, and a sexual offender. In this way I think the book does a great job of showing the duality of a person.

I like how the author extracts from Eden’s journals in the chapter “Like a Boy,” giving a glimpse into what it was like, living in a constantly oppressive environment—added to the fact that they are also immigrants. A bias that exposes their dad to a racist interaction with a police officer. 

The way the author uses the third person perspective to highlight this family’s development gives readers first-hand experiences of the oppressive environment they were in. The letters by the protagonist make the pain of her abuse along with that of her mother’s are very relatable.

Paradise Taken is a remarkable translation of Eden’s story from her diary. This is a stirring and thought-provoking biography that is relatable across genders and social structures. This is an illuminating and impassioned story that is guaranteed to stick with you long after you have put the book down.

Pages: | ASIN: B09CW9P87B

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